James Mystakidis
James Mystakidis, Group Executive, Macquarie Cloud Services

Author: James Mystakidis, Group Executive, Macquarie Cloud Services

Think you have a disaster recovery plan sorted, just because you have backups? Even having a solid failover plan isn’t enough to ensure business continuity. Read on for the essentials for a solid disaster recovery and the key components.

It doesn’t only happen to others. Imagine your IT systems go down. Time to spring into action. But wait, your backups aren’t available because they’re locked in a storage room somewhere else. And you now have employees who can’t work. Stress levels jump up, profits drop.

No matter how you look at it, the faster you can get your system up & running again, the better. Don’t let the word ‘disaster’ lull you into a sense of security. A disaster doesn’t have to be an ‘act of God’. While disaster can mean flooding and earthquakes and cyclones, more often it is something as simple as an unexpected update or patch for your system.

DR vs. Backup vs. Failover vs. High Availability

Recent research from disaster recovery provider Zerto, shows that more than a third (34%) of organizations across Asia-Pacific have experienced some sort of IT outage, disaster or major disruption. They also report that two-thirds of Asia-Pacific organizations have implemented a formal disaster recovery plan. Could you imagine being one of the third that has experience an outage, with no disaster recovery plan?

What is the difference between disaster recovery, backup, failover, and high availability? Data backup is essentially saving copies of your data at certain points in time, which could range from a few hours ago to a few days ago, depending on the specific organization’s practice. This data is often written to physical tape, and although this is inexpensive, it is also unreliable (some numbers estimate that 50% of tapes fail to restore). It’s important to have a data backup solution in place, but it can’t be an isolated solution.

A failover is like a spare tire. When you get a flat tire, you switch to the spare and keep driving. Some spares are only meant to take you to the nearest tire shop, but others are the same as the original tire. In the IT world, that generally means there’s a computer ready to run your mission critical programs and you can switch to that computer when your system goes down to continue working until the original system can be fixed by IT. Failover helps to preserve business continuity while IT fixes the problem.

High availability is a protocol designed for companies that just can’t operate with a disruption to business continuity. Machines are configured to reduce any downtime and aims for little to no human interaction to restore operation to the system.

Hosting and Cloud Providers

High availability and failover are often confused because failover is typically how high availability is implemented, but they’re not the same and can be used independently. Disaster avoidance can also be confused with high availability. High availability usually consists of a replicated version of the operating system in the same location (or data center), which means that if the data center goes down, so do both working copies. With disaster avoidance solutions, the two mirrored systems are active but in different physical locations (usually a safe distance apart), which adds an extra layer of security and uptime guarantee.

Some hosting and cloud providers offer zero-downtime hosting. Disaster recovery is the key here. It covers all these ideas under one large umbrella, that keeps systems working with little downtime while also providing a backup and recovery plan for when disaster strikes (operative word: recovery). A good disaster recovery plan will outline the procedures that happen when something takes down your system, whether it’s the whole thing or a small piece. It’s essentially a handbook of steps to recovering lost data during an outage, restoring it, and getting everything back on track. This might include replacement pieces of physical hardware, backup solutions (like tapes or backing up to the cloud), backup sites, data integrity checks, and more.

The three keys to any disaster recovery plan:

  1. Easy to implement & follow – Follow the K-I-S-S analogy for this one (Keep, It, Simple, Stupid). It needs to be a plan that anyone can follow, just in case your expert is out of the office. A simple plan also reduces the chances of something else going wrong (which in a disaster situation, is the last thing you need).
  2. Redundancy – Save your information in different ways and different places. For example, if something happens that affects the area where your office is, your data backed up on the cloud is still accessible, but physical copies might not be. Also, backups (even if they’re tested) can still fail. It is always good to have a backup of the backup.
  3. Round-the-clock availability – Unfortunately, disasters aren’t polite enough to schedule themselves ahead of time. Make sure you can implement your plan at any time. Make sure you choose a powerful disaster recovery solution that is flexible, fast, simple, and testable at the touch of a button.

About James Mystakidis and Macquarie Cloud Services

A 20 year IT veteran, James Mystakidis MBA, Group Executive, Macquarie Cloud Services, leads the Macquarie Cloud Services team – a company delivering a high net promoter score performance. As Group Executive, James is a noted industry speaker on workplace culture, technology and strategic management.

Macquarie Cloud Services is an expert organization from Australia with specialists in hybrid IT integrating data center, cloud, and dedicated servers. Part of the Macquarie Telecom Group with $200 million in annual revenues, the company understands that different applications need different types of hosting. They migrate it. They manage it and they ensure it is IT standards compliant.

For more information on Macquarie Cloud Services, visit: https://macquariecloudservices.com.

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